Over the next three years, to the end of 2016, we are looking to assist 475 children from 470 families in 11 communities to attend school. We focus on helping children from the most impoverished families in a community, who for a variety of reasons are unable to attend school. Some lack even the most basic necessities, such as food and shelter, because of their poverty. Beneficiaries include: HIV positive children or those whose families are affected by HIV/AIDS, children in the labour force (e.g. working the farm with their parents), school dropouts, children who have experienced some sort of trauma, and children who come from families that live below the poverty line.
We provide parents with training about the value of education, child rights, and positive strategies for raising children, so that they do not resort to verbal or physical abuse. Alongside this training, we also do regular house visits to support the parents, and to truly understand their ongoing family needs. Once a year we also hold a community concert, which is focused on child rights awareness within the community.
Sick children cannot go to school. We provide food and nutrition for students, so they are not as vulnerable to disease and malnutrition. In addition, we provide financial assistance to send children to the doctor and buy necessary medicine. Through our Water and Sanitation project we also provide health and hygiene education to the community, as well as water filters and latrines for families.
We provide students with simple but necessary things for their day to day school needs that they can’t afford, such as: school uniforms, books, stationery, bags, even bicycles for those that live far from school. These school supplies also provide children with something of their own to keep. For the most poor who cannot afford the 10 cents a day tuition fees, we provide those fees for them.
In partnership with local primary schools, we provide extra tuition classes where children who are struggling or have missed significant class time are able to catch up with their peers and have a greater chance of passing their level. For the teachers, we provide much needed resources and training so they can improve their teaching methods. In addition we provide a stipend for some teachers to help supplement their small wage.
As insufficient family income is one of main contributors to student dropout rates, we work with the families to help them set up a small business. Partnering with the Livelihoods project, we provide small business training to parents alongside skills training in areas such as animal raising, running a small shop, and sewing. We also provide micro loans to trainees and mentor them through the first year of business.
Partnering with AOC’s Community Hope Development team, we provide at-risk young people with soft skills training in English and computer classes. Through this initiative, we are equipping teenagers with a greater chance of getting a job and breaking free of the poverty cycle. These classes are run by young Christian leaders, who are able to build relationship and share the gospel within an encouraging environment.
Last but not least, we run an after school program one day a week called the Happy Children’s Club, where we play games, do activities, read bible stories and share the love of Christ with community children. Happy Children’s Club is a safe and fun environment where children aged between five and seven are able to play and learn and just be kids. We believe in teaching the next generation from a young age.
Phy Charni is seven years old, and lives with his grandmother and five siblings in a small community in Prey Veng Province. Only a few months after he was born, his parents migrated to Thailand to try and find work to support their children. Charni’s grandmother does what she can to provide food and shelter for the children, but sometimes they go without, or cannot afford school tuition fees.
Over the past year, the ACTS project has provided Charni with the necessary means to go to school, including his uniform, school books and stationery. ACTS also helps to pay for his school tuition, and provides the opportunity for Charni to attend extra tuition classes, which have helped him to become one of the top students in his class. ACTS also meets with Charni’s grandmother regularly to ensure he is doing well at home and also to help her to understand the importance of education.
Charni and some of his siblings also attend the Happy Children’s Club each week, where they learn bible stories and play games with their friends. Charni’s grandmother, although a Buddhist, has started to attend the women’s cell group, run by AOC’s Community Hope Development project. She wants to know more about Jesus, thanks to the example of the AOC workers.
Charni told us, “I really like the school uniforms and study materials like note books, pencils, pens, bag, and shoes. Thank you to the uncles and aunties at the Assisting Children to School Project for helping me with study material. When I grow up I want to be a policeman, because I don’t like bad people and I want to help good people.”